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Could Apple become its own cellular carrier?

Dan Moren | May 8, 2015
Google's heading into new territory with Project Fi. Should Apple set up an MVNO too?

Plus, some of the features Google's rolling out with Project Fi aren't ones that Apple needs. For instance, Google touts the ability to "use your phone number with tablets and laptops too" receiving your text messages and calls on non-cellular devices. Apple already offers similar functionality with its Continuity features.

Finally, to me, there's the elephant in the room: Apple's history with services. The company's record when it comes to services is unreliable at best, with snafus for MobileMe, iCloud, the new Photos Library, and even the usually stable iTunes Store. I don't dispute that Apple could improve if it invested in talent there the same way it did in other sectors where it didn't have expertise, but it's starting from a position of disadvantage.

Suspended sentence
None of these obstacles make becoming a carrier impossible, but all of them point to the sheer complexity of the company expanding to fill this kind of role. It's certainly not something that happens overnight.

Still, if there's a time to do it, that time might be now. Much like the video content market, the wireless industry is running right into a period of upheaval, as people shift increasingly from voice to data, the smaller carriers like T-Mobile keep trying to chip away at the larger ones, and people simply demand more from their wireless service.

Somewhere at Apple, I'm sure this idea has been discussed, mulled over, and analyzed from every angle. But we may have to see how Project Fi does before Cupertino decides whether or not the time is ripe to enter the thorny world of cellular service.

 

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